February 14, 2008


Filed under: ELECTIONS - 2008,MILITARY RULE — civilsocietypakistan @ 3:20 am
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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Blocking “usurpers”

THE expressions of goodwill and promises to work together by the leaders of the two main opposition parties would be meaningful provided the two sides abide by them in the days to come, particularly after coming to power. Apparently what worries the two sides is the prospect of rigging in the forthcoming elections. The concern is shared by many, both inside the country and abroad. The most recent opinion surveys by the TFT and IRI have supported popular perceptions about the rising popularity of the PPP and PML(N). Fears are however being expressed that with the stakes being high the erstwhile ruling alliance might decide to indulge in massive rigging to steal the elections. There is a widespread belief that any attempt in this direction could lead to strong public reaction resulting in disruption of peace. The issue must have been taken up by the two leaders in their meeting. Talking to the press later, both vowed to cooperate to foil any possible attempts to manipulate the elections. Mian Nawaz also said the two sides would act jointly if the polls are rigged. Mr Zardari said his party would have to make some difficult decisions if this happened. There is a need for the establishment to heed the warning. 

Both the leaders vowed to work together after the elections for common goals. The PPP leader said he would take all democratic forces on board even if his party got a majority of seats. The two sides however still differ on the issue of restoration of the deposed judges with Mr Zardari sticking to the position of strengthening the institution of the judiciary rather than rehabilitating individual judges. Mian Nawaz on the other hand still sticks to the rehabilitation being the most crucial issue. The PML-N wants the restoration of the 1973 Constitution, as it existed prior to the military takeover in October 1999, while the PPP wants to retain certain ‘progressive’ amendments, such as regarding women introduced by President Musharraf. Similarly the two do not have identical views regarding relations with President Musharraf after the polls. This has led to a perception that the PML-N might like to support a PPP-led government from outside, in case the latter gets enough seats, instead of joining it.
The future of democracy depends on the level of maturity displayed by the political parties in the days to come. One hopes that attempts made by them to block those they call “usurpers” would remain peaceful. One also hopes they would shun politics of revenge in case they come to power and continue to maintain working relations with their opponents. 


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